Mr Rusbridger, that sounds like a target in itself.
I'm conscious and have been conscious from the various presentations that you've made, both the seminars and the speeches you've given, that this is a topic which has obviously exercised your mind for some considerable time, and therefore I would very much welcome not merely a restatement of the problems, which I am starting to get to grip with, but also some help with solutions that work for everybody. Nobody need convince me that the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of journalism practised in this country is very much in the public interest and has the public interest very much at its heart. But I think you're right, as indeed everybody else has realised, that there is a distance now to go which we can't ignore, and which we ignore at our peril.
So let me just ask you a few questions about what you've said, and if you can't answer them now, that's fair enough, I just want them to be thought about.
When Mr Jay opened the case, he spoke about these two narratives, the positive and the negative, and I've heard not surprising concern expressed by some of the core participants about anonymous evidence and I understand that, and from a background of the criminal law where anonymity has caused enormous problems, I recognise the issues that are thrown up, but how am I going to get to the bottom of the culture which is hinted at, which is spoken of this morning, unless people are prepared to say it? And how am I going to help those that are concerned about the potential impact that that will have upon them, and their livelihood, which is a not at all ignoble concern, to try and expose what needs to be exposed so that we can get an idea of the corners of the problem?
So that's the first series of questions that I have.
The second is the slightly different picture that some of the media representatives portray to the picture presented by others. It's encapsulated in the concern that was expressed at a very early stage about lack of tabloid experience, and by tabloid I mean red top rather than including in that description the size of the paper upon which the newspaper is printed. That's not what I'm talking about, as everybody understands.
Nobody has suggested that the ethics of those that are mass market newspapers should be different to those which are rather more targeted, and that seems to me to be right, but there is no doubt, it seems to me, that concepts of privacy about which you spoke are differently perceived by different titles, and I need to know how to address that. I need to know how I should be thinking about the concept of privacy, and to what extent obviously those who have been affected by issues of privacy will have extremely strong views, and where the balance is. I think that's a struggle.
You mention what safeguards can be built into news organisations so that journalists can exercise moral choices. That echoed something that Ms Stanistreet said about the conscience clause, but is it appropriate for me to be requiring that? Is that a way forward? I'm very concerned about the extent to which the law ought to be prescribing any of these things, not least because that itself impacts on the freedom that I have no doubt is critical to the exercise of journalistic responsibilities.
Then you talk about oversight and governance, which I've already mentioned. If there is to be a public benefit test as I believe there should be, then it obviously has to be subjective if the journalist and the editor has to believe it, but secondly, is there place for some objective criteria and a demonstration of oversight that establishes that it has been thought about?
It will come particularly to the fore where stories don't actually prove themselves. You could take a story such as the cricketing revelations recently and say, well, that demonstrates, and indeed it does demonstrate, the power of investigative journalism, where there was a real public interest. But one has to be able to make that decision before one knows the result of the test. In other words, you have to have some mechanism to decide this line which is going to involve blagging and steps which might otherwise be a legitimate subject of complaints, is overridden by public interest, even if in the end you don't get the lollipop because nothing comes of it, and yet it then comes out. That's another issue and that's an issue which has to be tested at various stages.
The problem about pre-publication authorisation, just to raise a concept -- and I'm afraid you are now getting a whole series of questions which is really, of course, addressed to everybody and come out of everything that everybody's said, but because you're the last core participant, you're going to get it from me -- is how one is going to test some sort of authority. I mean, I know there's been a very real concern, and indeed Mr Mosley has pursued through to Europe issues of notification, but on what basis would that decision be made? Would it be made on the basis of the story that the press wants to put in the public domain or would it require some detailed examination of the facts to see whether that story is justified?
I'm not answering these questions, I'm merely asking them.
Let me just carry on to the next point.
I think there is a great deal of scope in finding some mechanism that allows for the resolution of disputes between members of the public and the press short of the courts, because it's become so expensive or so dependent upon conditional fees that it isn't available to many. I would like to investigate the idea of having some sort of service that does that, that ties into the law and that runs parallel, because I'm not going to be one that cuts anybody out from coming to law, but I do feel that everybody could benefit from some mechanism -- at least I think I feel; I'm only beginning and none of these views are formed, they're merely thoughts -- as to how one can set something up that is for the benefit of everybody.
You mention a carrot and a stick, but how am I going to persuade those that don't even subscribe to the PCC that it's a sensible approach? And how am I going to involve that other great media outlet now, the Internet, to buy in?
You pick up the point about teeth, and my concern about the binary issue, and I'm sure that the approach -- no, I can't say I'm sure. I feel it's likely that the approach is going to require something rather more nuanced than one or the other, but how can that work in a way that doesn't -- and if I say this once a day, I hope people will believe me -- doesn't impact on the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression, both of which I believe are absolutely fundamental to our society, and I will carry on saying it because that is absolutely my view.
Then you mentioned the competition. The word plurality came into my terms of reference quite late in the day and raised monumental problems, but how is one to do that? And even if we are where we are, how is one to take that forward in a way that respects independence and takes the decision-making into an area that is cognisant of those problems?
So they're just a stream of consciousness, really, based upon things that you've said but also that I've heard this morning and heard over the last few days. I don't ask you to answer this examination paper immediately, but if there's anything that you do want to add, because some of those I might have asked as questions while you were speaking, you're very welcome to do so. Otherwise, everybody can take on board what I have said and think about the ways in which we can address them in the weeks that are to come.
I want this Inquiry to mean something. I am, and I repeat, very concerned that it should not simply form a footnote in some professor of journalism's analysis of the history of the 21st century while it gathers dust. This is an opportunity for your industry, your profession, and I'm very keen that it's used as profitably by everybody so that the vast expense that all are incurring is not wasted.
That was a speech I didn't expect to make and wasn't planning, but I hope that it's of value.
If there's anything you want to add to what I've said, I would be very grateful.